Vietnam Airlines is the country’s flagship carrier and a popular option for travelers in Southeast Asia. After many visits to Vietnam, we surprisingly hadn’t yet flown with their most famous airline! Needless to say, we were excited to finally travel with them on our recent trip from Jakarta to Da Nang. Here’s everything you need to know about Vietnam Air, as well as how to get through customs to the domestic terminal. Hopefully, our Vietnam Airlines review will be helpful when planning your next trip!
Vietnam Airlines Review
Booking Our Vietnam Airlines Flight
After spending 10 days in Sumatra Indonesia for the holidays, we were back in Jakarta and ready to catch our flight to Vietnam. While we have traveled all over Vietnam, this trip was a little different as we were heading straight to Da Nang for a longterm apartment stay.
When looking for flights on Skyscanner we could see there were companies that were slightly less expensive. However, these would include transferring though Kuala Lumpur and booking with two different airlines. Overall, Vietnam Airlines had the most direct route and was a convenient travel day from Jakarta to Da Nang.
Even if this isn’t the route you’re planning to travel, our experience will still be useful. This is especially true if you’re taking Vietnam Air to passing through customs and get to a connecting flight!
Our Vietnam Airline Information
- Start: Jakarta International
- End: Da Nang Vietnam
- Layover: Ho Chi Minh City
- Cost: $230 USD
- Class: Economy
Checking in for Our Vietnam Air Flight
We checked in online the night before our trip from our Jakarta Airport hotel. We stayed at 101 Jakarta Airport CBD twice while passing through the city and can highly recommend it. It’s only a 10 minute drive to the airport and offers a free 24 hour shuttle.
The morning of our flight we hopped in the shuttle and made our way to Terminal 3. We had to check in again at the airport which went smoothly. The Vietnam Airline had a bunch of staff helping everyone and moving along the passengers. After checking our visas, passports, and other documents we were given our Vietnam Air tickets and made our way to the gate.
Jakarta Airport is pretty massive so don’t wait too long to make your way to head to the right area. We grabbed a cappuccino to-go and took a walk around. When it was time to board it wasn’t by zone, but instead everyone lined up at once to get on the flight.
What’s it Like Flying Vietnam Airlines?
The first leg of our trip was just under 3 hours in flight time. The plane was standard and had cloth seats in a unique pattern. Unlike the long haul flights with Vietnam Airlines, there wasn’t any individual TV’s onboard our plane. However, there were small screens that folded down from above and played a cartoon with English subtitles.
One thing that was unexpected on this Vietnam Airline was how good of a safety video it had! I don’t think we’ve ever mentioned this in our airline reviews. What made it special was it showed different safety instructions formed from a traditional dance!
Once we got in the air, the flight was slightly bumpy to start but evened out. It was a bit of crazy weather leaving Jakarta so we’re assuming that had something to do with it. Just 20 minutes into the air, attendants came down the aisle with food carts and prepared to serve us a meal.
Vietnam Airlines Meal
We’ve taken hundreds of flights and eaten countless airline meals. So how did Vietnam Airlines stack up? Well, we honestly didn’t have very high expectations because it was a relatively short flight.
We were given a choice of beef noodle or shrimp and rice. We both order the beef noodle which was served with a banana and bread roll. Having skipped breakfast, we were super hungry and happy that there was something to eat.
The food was decent, but nothing we would look forward to again. Honestly, we probably had too high of expectations given that Vietnamese cuisine is one of our favorites in the world. We were so excited for something more traditional, but at the end of the day it’s just airplane food… Even on Vietnam Air, it can only really be so good!
For drinks, there was everything from water and orange juice to milk and wine. We each ordered a glass of wine with our meal and before we knew it the flight was landing!
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City
Since there were no direct flights from Jakarta to Da Nang we had to make a quick layover in Ho Chi Minh City. This was our point of entry so it would also be where we pass through customs. We applied for our Vietnam E-Visa two weeks before traveling and got it about a week before our arrival.
Make sure to double check the rules for your home country when planning your trip to Vietnam. For many countries they do not offer a visa on arrival! In this instance you would need to apply for your visa and get approved prior to flying.
We were asked for our visa approval letter when checking into our flight in Jakarta. If we didn’t have this we wouldn’t have been able to board our flight with Vietnam Air.
Thankfully, we were sitting towards the front of the flight and were one of the first to get off. From there, we quickly walked to the terminal and got in line. By time the whole flight unloaded the customs hall was packed full of people. We literally turned around and the lines were massive! Do your best to get there quickly, especially if you have a short transfer window.
Switching Between International & Domestic Terminals
Now this is where our Vietnam Airlines review gets interesting! Typically, when switching between terminals at large airports you will need to take a skytrain or bus over. However, at Tan Son Nhat International Airport we were close enough to walk!
When exiting the international terminal, some Vietnam Airlines associates gave us transfer stickers which we pinned to our shirts. So as we continued on our walk through the transfer steps we were continually pointed in the right direction.
Once we got outside we were told to simply walk to right towards the domestic terminal. We actually had to walk a bit further than first section of airlines, but after about 10 minutes we made it to the domestic Vietnam Airlines counters.
Flight to Da Nang Vietnam
We had about an hour to kill in between Vietnam Airline flights so we headed to our Priority Pass Lounge to relax. Our final ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang was only one hour and 20 minutes and went by quickly.
The plane again had no frills, but the service was great and we had no complaints. This time we were only given water which was expected on such a short flight. Before we knew it we were landing in Da Nang!
Vietnam Airlines Review Final Thoughts
So is Vietnam Airlines a good airline? Overall, we weren’t that impressed with it. The service was easily the highlight as everyone was very nice and accommodating. Yet, the actual plane and food were nothing to write home about.
Sorry if that’s not what you were hoping to hear in this review of Vietnam Airlines! If the price was right and it was the most direct flight we would have no problem booking it again. However, it’s not a company we would go out of our way to book with again.
Check out all our Vietnam articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from the best Vietnamese food to 50 travel tips & how to get around. You can also find our Northern Vietnam and Southern itineraries as well as an amazing 1 month route!
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own review of Vietnam Airlines? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Vietnam Travel Planning
Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Vietnam!
Tours: Get Your Guide is an amazing place to find fun activities all over Vietnam! There is everything from a Hanoi Cooking Class and market tour to a Mekong Delta Pagoda & rowing boat trip, and even the Phu Quoc Cable Car Ride with three island snorkeling tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
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